Exam ordered for man accused in Wis. killings
- Associated Press
- September 28, 2013 - 12:55 PM
DARLINGTON, Wis. — A 31-year-old man accused of bludgeoning three people to death in Lafayette County will be examined to determine if he's competent to stand trial.
Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust ordered Jaren Kuester to be re-examined Friday after he wouldn't answer questions about whether he understood the court proceedings.
Kuester faces five felonies, including three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, in the deaths of Gary and Chloe Thoreson and Gary Thoreson's brother, Dean Thoreson in southern Wisconsin on April 27.
Before the hearing, prosecutors and the defense attorneys reached an agreement that could have led to Kuester being committed to a mental institution for the rest of his life, according to the Wisconsin State Journal (http://bit.ly/15BxeXd ). But Kuester negated the deal when he remained silent as Foust questioned him Friday.
The agreement would have required Kuester to change his pleas from not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to guilty for the first-degree intentional homicide charges. That would have averted a trial, set for Oct. 15.
Instead, an insanity hearing would have been scheduled, and Kuester's attorney, Guy Taylor, said both sides would have presented similar psychiatric evaluations.
If the judge agreed, Kuester would have automatically faced a lifetime commitment to a mental health institution, Taylor told the newspaper.
Kuester had been found competent to stand trial during a July 1 hearing.
After Kuester remained silent, Foust studied Kuester and then asked Taylor, "Has he clammed up on you recently?"
Kuester, who was barefoot and wore only a protective outfit that Taylor said prevented Kuester from hurting himself or others, spoke just once, saying that if it was OK with the judge, he'd like to stay silent. He then said, "Thank you."
Another competency hearing is now set for Oct. 15.
If Kuester is found incompetent to stand trial, Foust will suspend the case and order that Kuester be taken to a mental health facility, where he would stay until he's found competent to stand trial. If he's found competent, both sides can go ahead with the agreement or Foust can order a new trial date.
Kuester's parents said that they asked Waukesha County mental health officials to detain their son in the days leading up to the murders because he was delusional and they worried he might harm someone. Those officials declined, saying Kuester didn't meet the criteria to be detained.
© 2013 Star Tribune